Babson Business: Blu Sky Communications
Name of business: Blu Sky Communications Corp.; www.bluskycommunications.com
Mission: To provide companies of all sizes the ability to customize their phone system to their exacting needs while still saving them money.
Began: August 2006
Initial Investment: $10,000
Broke Even: 1 year
Where: Ann Arbor, Michigan
Founder: Brian Udebrock, CEO Budebrock@bluskycommunications.com
(248) 830-7538; Junior, Ugrad at Babson College
Founder's Past Life/Business: I was raised in Clarkston, Michigan and currently attend Babson College. I started and currently own a second business, DataSafe Security Corp., a biometrics packager and reseller.
How The Idea Began: Blu Sky Communications Corp. started with a conversation between founders in which the complication of VoIP was discussed. After realizing how complex competitors made VoIP seem, it was concluded that we could do it better. We could offer customers the ability to customize their phone system to their exact needs and price point, and have it implemented seamlessly. If a company could pick the exact features they needed and wanted, they could do business in a way they couldn't have previously dreamed of, and actually save money along the way.
Initial Preparation to Germinate Idea: All partners were skilled in the VoIP arena, so right away we got to work developing features that no other VoIP company offered. All feature ideas were considered, and were in turn made available to customers.
Favorite Thing about the Business: The excitement it allows. Seeing a quote or a picture of yourself in a magazine or newspaper is exhilarating. Starting a business lets you put your entrepreneurial skills to the ultimate test. Knowing that your idea is being bought by countless customers is the real payoff. You've survived the truly difficult times, and you've made it.
Worst Thing about the Business: My partners lived on opposite sides of the country. In the early stages, phone bills were through the roof, and emails were changing hands by the hundreds. We could never have an official “meeting”, so we had to cope by doing two conference calls per week, making dozens of phone calls per day to each other, and living with a laptop tied to your hands.
Biggest Challenge: The biggest challenge with Blu Sky was concurrent with nearly all new businesses. How do you make people work for you if you can't pay them? Starting a business puts your leadership and motivation skills to the test. As a CEO, you must actively seek out motivational stories and experiences that will keep the goals and timelines of the company in the forefront of employees' minds.
Lesson Learned: In the new age of telecom and instant communication, meetings are no longer essential. We started a successful technology company while going months between actual physical meetings. If you are driven and motivated enough, nothing can stop you. If employees have a common set of goals associated with the success of the company, you have a winning team on your hands.